The Chase

Bucky Bitters struggles to escape the airborne affections of Derpy Hooves after a chance encounter caused them to bump noses together. His real mistake was trying to comfort the mare after the snoot-bump. Little does the poor stallion realise that their meeting was only the prologue to a journey that will change not only his life, but the lives around him forever.

This story is a sequel to The Catch

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Opening her eyes, Diamond Tiara squirmed under the blankets as she slowly woke up, feeling warm and comfortable. She was in Dinky and Piña’s room, in the spare bed, and her tongue felt thick and too sticky from the pain pills she had been given at the hospital. She heard the clunk of a tray being set down and she rolled over.

“Hi there… I’ve been asked to look after you. My name is Sunset Shimmer. You and I have a lot in common. How are you feeling? You look a little dried out.”

“I’m thirsty,” Diamond Tiara said in a raspy voice.

“I could imagine,” said Sunset Shimmer in a soft voice that was full of concern. Using her magic, she lifted Diamond Tiara into a sitting position and stuffed several pillows behind her. She lifted a small juice glass full of apple juice to Diamond Tiara’s lips, and watched as the earth pony foal struggled to get her lips around the straw. Sunset Shimmer had to give a soft nudge to get the straw into Diamond Tiara’s lips, and Sunset patiently waited as the foal drank.  “Bartleby, where are you?”

“I am here,” Bartleby responded, standing near the door of the room.

“Good, I feel nervous when you’re not around, Bartleby,” Sunset Shimmer said in a soft voice, still watching as Diamond Tiara drank down the glass of apple juice. “You and I share something in common Diamond Tiara.”

Swallowing and falling back into the pillow pile, Diamond Tiara looked up at Sunset Shimmer. “We do?” she asked, sounding groggy and weak.

“We do,” Sunset responded. “Want some broth? Sorry, but all you get is liquids for a while. There will be some soup later, I do believe that Semillon is fixing something suitable for your stomach.”

“Just more juice,” Diamond Tiara said in a weak whisper. “I feel funny.”

“They gave you some serious pain killers… bleeding ulcers hurt. You’re a tough little foal for just pushing along,” Sunset Shimmer said as she poured more juice from the glass jug into the glass. She held the glass out for Diamond Tiara and pushed the straw between the filly’s lips. “They also gave you some pills to make you feel relaxed.”

Saying nothing, still drinking, Diamond Tiara nodded.

“You and I… we were both bullies,” Sunset Shimmer stated, watching as Diamond Tiara drank more juice. “We caused a lot of hurt. I went even farther than you did, I did some bad things that give me nightmares and cause me a lot of trouble now… and we’re forced to deal with what we’ve done in the past. We both struggle with acceptance. We both want others to see that we’ve changed, and others keep expecting the very worst from us.”

A dribble of juice made its way down Diamond Tiara’s chin as the straw slipped free from her lips. She stared up at Sunset Shimmer, tears already rimming her eyes.

“I turned into a rampaging she-demon. No joke. I made deals to get the sort of power I wanted… I wanted respect… I confused respect and fear. I made others afraid of me. I really screwed things up,” Sunset Shimmer explained as she wiped Diamond Tiara’s chin with a napkin from the tray. “And then, once I got a much needed reality check, I had to live with what I had done. Everybody hated me. Nobody trusted me. I had hurt so many.”

“I live with that every day,” said Diamond Tiara in a strangled whisper.

“I know you do. Master has told me in detail,” Sunset Shimmer replied, offering Diamond Tiara a smile.

“Master?” Diamond Tiara asked.

“Buckminster,” Sunset Shimmer responded, offering a single word for explanation. “Luckily, I had a few friends. I had to earn their respect. I had to earn their forgiveness. They watched over me and when I screwed up, they set me straight. When I fell down, they picked me up, brushed me off, and then gave me a good shove to get me going again. They didn’t let me fall back into old habits. And with their help, I broke most of those habits and I started to heal. I got better. It was painful, and I cried a lot, but I did get better.”

“What about trust?” Diamond Tiara asked.

“I learned that it wasn’t as important as I made it out to be. I left behind a bad situation when Master had me brought here. Now, I understand something that has made me feel a lot better… Master trusts me. Implicitly. He has been very kind to me and I never want to screw up or do anything that will break that trust. Twilight Sparkle trusts me. A lot of ponies don’t trust me just yet, they remember what I’ve done. And it doesn’t matter. I only need to focus on the trust I have. Since I figured that out, my life has been a whole lot easier,” Sunset Shimmer explained.

“I trust you,” Bartleby interjected.

“I know you do Bartleby… and it means more to me than I could put into words,” Sunset Shimmer responded, turning to look at the griffon.

“So what about being accepted?” Diamond Tiara inquired, looking at Sunset Shimmer with wide curious bloodshot eyes.

“It isn’t important. It will either happen or it won’t. For now, I have Master and his family. I have my friends that I send messages to. I have Twilight Sparkle. And of course, Bartleby. I would be lost without Bartleby,” Sunset Shimmer answered as she refilled the juice glass once again.

“This is embarrassing, but I need to pee,” Diamond Tiara whispered as she wiggled in the bed. “But nothing is moving the way I want it to.”

“I’ll help you,” Sunset Shimmer offered, setting the juice glass down.

“Did I have a nervous breakdown?” Diamond Tiara asked as Sunset Shimmer pulled back the blankets that covered Diamond Tiara.

“I don’t know… maybe? I don’t know how to answer that,” Sunset Shimmer responded in a confused voice as she lifted the earth pony foal. “Whatever happened, today is the day you start getting better because I’m going to be like your big sister. I know what you’re going through. And I’m going to get you through this, and you are going to get me through my rough patches, and we’re gonna look out for one another.”

“Okay,” Diamond Tiara said groggily, the room spinning all around her as she floated through the air, now weightless. “I always wanted a big sister… Dinky and Piña are like my little sisters… I love them… I love them so much and I hurt them both so badly,” Diamond Tiara mumbled as she began to sniffle.

“Shush,” Sunset Shimmer said as she carried the earth pony foal out the door to head off to the bathroom.

 

 

“Bucky is finally asleep,” Derpy announced as she came into the kitchen. “Bon Bon rubbed him down. She said he was nothing but knots. I wonder what Luna was making him do...” the grey mare grumbled.

“I think we’re all happier not knowing,” Berry Punch said gloomily.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Filthy Rich grumbled, rubbing his head.

“Sunset Shimmer?” Berry asked.

“Yes… I remember what she did,” Filthy Rich replied, his eyes closed.

“Maybe you’re forgetting what Bucky did… and probably just did again last night. Whatever he did last night disturbed him,” Derpy groused as she sat down at the table.

“Point taken, complaint withdrawn,” Filthy Rich groaned, slumping over the table and setting his head down.

“Naval strength gin. Bucky finished off the bottle and drank wine with dinner,” Berry Punch remarked as she looked at Filthy Rich.

“I will never drink again,” Filthy Rich vowed.

The ponies around the table all looked up when they heard the sound of a bath being drawn. Filthy Rich’s head wobbled on his neck and he struggled mightily to keep looking up. Derpy looked flustered and out of sorts. Berry Punch gave a nod.

“A hot bath will do Diamond Tiara some good. She needs to relax. See, Sunset Shimmer knows how to look after a foal,” Berry Punch said, offering some reassurance.

With a thump, Filthy Rich collapsed down upon the table, his head hitting the wood with a solid thud. The stallion whimpered, writhed in his chair, and he squeezed his eyes shut, wishing the pain would go away.

“Bleeding ulcers,” Derpy said, shaking her head in disbelief.

“Ponies seem to forget that foals can suffer from extreme stress,” said Berry Punch in a knowing voice. She looked at Derpy and blinked a few times.

“You don’t mind her staying here for a while?” Filthy Rich moaned.

“No, we’ll look after her for as long as she needs to be looked after,” Derpy answered, reaching out and gently patting Filthy Rich on the back.

“I’ve messed up everything. Everything. I’ve been a terrible father. I was a bad husband. I’ve done all of the wrong things. I keep making mistakes,” Filthy Rich said as he lifted his head. “I need to go. There are things to take care of. Please look after her. I have business to look after. The world doesn’t stop just because I have personal issues. I gotta go,” he announced as he rose unsteadily from his chair. He gave himself a shake. “Thank you… both of you. Thank you so much. Tell her I love her,” Filthy Rich requested.

“You gonna be okay?” Derpy asked.

“I’m just hungover, I’ll be fine. Remind me to never drink with your husband when I’m emotional,” Filthy Rich grumbled as he made his way to the door.

“Come back soon,” Berry said as Filthy Rich departed.

 

 

“There is a lot of snatch and grab crime in the marketplace,” Thunderlane warned as he and Flash Sentry trotted through the marketplace together. “Ponies… they get a little dumb. They forget just how visible they are, that they have cutie marks, and other ponies can identify them. “They’re desperate though. Most of the crime isn’t done by long time Ponyville residents. It is important to remember that these ponies are just trying to get by. Sparkler has a strict arrest, detain, lecture, and then letting them know about the food bank and other community services before letting them go policy.”

“Sounds reasonable,” Flash Sentry grunted.

“We try to be reasonable if the public will allow us,” Thunderlane said as he waved at Roseluck. “Hi Rose, how’s Slate?”

“His usual goofy self,” Roseluck replied, smiling broadly.

“Tell him I said hello,” Thunderlane requested as he trotted by Roseluck’s stall. “This is a big part of our job. Gaining the trust of the community. Sparkler takes a militant approach to this… she has ponies, that she’s slipped bits to, that keep an eye on us and report to her. If we go about our beat and we do not interact with the community and make friends, somehow, old Stoneface knows about it.”

“She really has ponies that spy on us?” Flash Sentry asked.

“I think so. We did some brainstorming one day and a couple of us asked her. She didn’t deny it, she told us to believe whatever we needed to believe for us to do our jobs better,” Thunderlane responded.

Flash Sentry snorted and shook his head. He also waved at a stallion selling tomatoes in a beat up looking wooden stall as he trotted past. The tomatoes were kind of sad looking, grown far too late in the season. The tomato seller was also charging an insane price for the sad looking tomatoes.

“Holly Dash and Orange Swirl should be around here somewhere. They are the most wonderful ponies you could ever work with. Holly Dash is a unicorn and Orange Swirl is a pegasus. Holly has the most wonderful stun spell… she likes to take out the grab and go types,” Thunderlane said as he and Flash made their way through the market.

“Where are Big McIntosh and Twinkleshine?” Flash Sentry inquired.

“Over by the rail depot. Today is a freight day. Snowflake is over there with them as well, making sure nobody tries to do anything foolish with the supply trains that have finally started to run again,” Thunderlane replied.

“I take it crime is a big problem over there?” Flash Sentry asked.

“It has become a very bad problem,” Thunderlane admitted. “Sparkler is currently trying to figure out what to do about it. She’s currently considering stocks and public shaming.”

“You’re joking,” Flash Sentry stated, looking Thunderlane in the eye.

“Sparkler has a writ from Princess Celestia to maintain the peace through any means necessary, provided that Sparkler does not resort to flogging or other means of corporal punishment. Stocks and public shaming are two things listed on the writ that Princess Celestia deems appropriate,” Thunderlane responded.

“That’s medieval,” Flash Sentry muttered.

“Sparkler really does try to stop crime through other means… ponies that steal food, she gives them a good lecture, tells them about ways to get food or get help, and she lets them go. When they just keep stealing because it is an easy way to get food that requires no real work, they sort of force her hoof… what can she do?” Thunderlane questioned.

“Fair point… but the stocks, really?” Flash Sentry remarked, unable to believe that such an option would be appropriate.

“Spend a couple of weeks doing the job and let’s check back on your opinion,” Thunderlane said in a knowing voice.

 

 

 

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